Being flexible will get you the best last-minute cruise deals. If you live near a cruise port and can drive, you're probably going to be able to jump on those deals that might pop up a week or two before the ship is set to sail.
If you don't have flexibility with dates and locations, be willing to bend on destination. This will allow you to find a wider range of last-minute deals traveling to locations in their off-season or shoulder season.
Do plenty of research and know what your ideal cruise costs on average. When you see it drop, pounce! Many cruise lines update pricing several times every day, so be prepared.
Part of the appeal of cruising is that there's truly something for everyone. Ships come in an array of sizes, some loaded with so many activities, you couldn't get to them all in a week.
Families will find plenty of options and activities onboard big ships, which have transformed cruising, making the vessels as exciting as the destinations to which they sail. The Caribbean is a great option for families, offering lots of sunshine, great beaches and culture. Alaska, famous for its incredible vistas and abundant wildlife, also is a solid family cruise option. Consider cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, Celebrity, MSC and Holland America for a family cruise.
River cruising has been heating up over the past few years, with itineraries that send passengers down the Danube or Rhine rivers in Europe or to even more exotic locations, like the Mekong River in Cambodia or Vietnam or the Volga River in Russia. Popular river cruises embark in cities like Amsterdam, Budapest and Lisbon. Popular river cruise lines include Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Scenic, Emerald Waterways, Tauck, Uniworld and Crystal.
If you're a thrill-seeker, consider an expedition cruise. These cruises, often onboard small ships, offer an intimate experience that brings passengers right up next to glaciers, whales, penguins and iguanas. Ships visit tiny spots all over the world, including Antarctica, Alaska, Australia and Greenland. Passengers will spend their time kayaking, hiking, biking and exploring with expert guides and knowledgeable naturalists. Expedition travelers love cruise lines such as Lindblad Expeditions, UnCruise Adventures, Silversea, Hurtigruten, Ponant and Quark Expeditions.
Luxury cruises offer all-inclusive experiences onboard smaller ships with perks like butlers, high-end amenities and personalized, intuitive service. Ships often feature luxury touches like marble and crystal decor, intimate spaces and beautiful spas. Because luxury ships tend to be smaller, they can often reach off-the-beaten-path destinations bigger ships can't -- ports like St. Tropez or Guadeloupe. If you're looking for a luxury cruise, consider Crystal, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Azamara, Viking Oceans and Silversea.